INDIANAPOLIS - Agents with the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in close partnership with other federal, state and local law enforcement partners, arrested 14 foreign-born gang members and gang associates during a two-day operation ending Tuesday. This is the latest joint local action of an ongoing national ICE HSI effort to target foreign-born members of violent street gangs.
These arrests were made Aug. 9 and 10 in the Indiana communities of Jasper, Huntingburg and Evansville under an initiative by ICE's National Gang Unit dubbed "Operation Community Shield." As part of the initiative, ICE partners with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target transnational street gangs and the significant public safety threat they pose. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies are essential to the initiative's success, and they help further ensure officer safety during the operations.
All 14 men arrested are members or associates of the following violent street gangs: MS-13, Sur-13, and Zoe Pound. Nine are from El Salvador, three are from Mexico, one is from Honduras and one is from Haiti. Twelve are in ICE custody on administrative immigration charges and will be placed into deportation proceedings. Two are in the DuBois County Jail pending local charges. For privacy reasons, ICE does not release the names of those arrested on administrative immigration charges.
During the operation ICE agents seized two semi-automatic handguns, each with two magazines of ammunition. Also seized were two machetes and 300 rounds of ammunition. Many of those arrested have criminal histories in addition to their immigration violations. Some of their arrests and convictions include: battery, resisting arrest, drug dealing, sexual battery, felony intimidations, and aggravated assault with a weapon.
The following agencies assisted ICE with the operation: the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Indiana State Police; the police departments of Jasper, Huntingburg and Evansville; and the sheriff's departments of Gibson, Dubois and Vanderburg counties.
"Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to Indiana's rural communities," said Daniel T. Dill, resident agent in charge of the ICE HSI office in Indianapolis. "With each gang member we arrest and remove from the United States, we make a positive impact in our communities. We are grateful to our law enforcement partners for their invaluable support."
ICE's National Gang Unit identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
Through Operation Community Shield, the federal government uses its powerful immigration and customs law enforcement authorities in a coordinated, national campaign against criminal street gangs in the United States. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.
Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 18,000 gang members and associates belonging to more than 900 different gangs have been arrested nationwide.
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling the ICE toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock.